3/9/10

Vinyl Dynamite #23: Organ Stop Pizza


Next time you hear about a struggling band in the 1970's unable to get that elusive record deal, understand one thing: they must really, really have sucked - everybody had a record in the 70's, even the freaking organ guy at a pizza restaurant! It must have been really disenchanting for bands unable to get a record deal to find records like this one.  To make matters worse.... there's two records...



Okay, maybe I'm being a little unfair to Organ Stop Pizza. It did, after all, have a gigantic Wurlitzer organ... and what an incredibly unusual concept: a pizza joint with professional organists and an expensive pipe organ!  Not the sort of thing you'd expect to sweep the nation. Yet, it was successful. The Pheonix location, shown on the above album covers, was demolished; however, the newer Mesa location is still going strong. It currently has the largest Wurlitzer in the entire world.

Here's a couple photographs from the LP's gatefold.



Why am I posting this? For one, it just strikes me as an oddity that's worthy of a few words. For another, I've actually known about this album for years, and have been extremely curious about how it sounded.  Recently, I acquired a copy and was able to finally listen to this curiosity. Not surprisingly, there's nothing too exciting about the music, in fact it pretty much sucks (I'm not sure what I was expecting). But now I've got closure.

Here's a sample track "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate"

16 comments:

  1. Eating pizza to roller rink music. Yep, that brings back memories. Heck, we used to go to a pizza joint that had three guys on piano, drums and banjo. It was great!

    Now you couldn't get kids to enjoy that without a joystick and a video screen. Oh well. Get off my lawn.
    __
    Barbara
    http://ifididnthaveasenseofhumor.blogspot.com

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  2. I was quite happily listening to 1970s music as done by Robin Trower which I stopped to listen to the organ music. Yikes! It's right back to Bridge of Sighs.

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  3. AHHH! I thought I was the only one in the world who owned this record! I put it on the turntable whenever I eat pizza at home and fantasize that I'm actually there.

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  4. DenverSteveApril 04, 2010

    There was a pizza place here in Denver with a huge Wurlitzer organ in the 70's and 80's called The Organ Grinder. Same deal, organ music, pizza. It is, of course, long gone.

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    Replies
    1. Does anyone know what became of the organ from the Organ Grinder in Denver?

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  5. Wow... when I was a kid, there was a place in Salt Lake called Pipes and Pizza that was the same concept as this. As I recall, the organist played Joplin's "The Entertainer" a lot, so I'm guessing this was around the time The Sting was released? I always thought P&P was some uniquely cheesy outgrowth of Utah (Mormon) culture, but apparently not. I don't think the place survived into the '80s, or at least I don't remember ever going there that late...

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  6. There's a place near Racine, Wisconsin called "Organ Piper Pizza" and its still open-- looks almost exactly like the pictures here. I remember going there once with my family and we all found it too weird and never went back.

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  7. There was a guy at a pizza place at the Har Mar Mall in Roseville, MN who did played huge pipe organ. That was in the 1970s. My folks loved him and bought his record. Saw him twice. Ciceros was the place.

    Here is a link that explains this period in time.

    http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/10/video-1980s-organ-grinder-pizza-commercial.html

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  8. Ciceros Pizza at the Har Mar Mall in Roseville, MN had George Summers during the 70s who played a huge pipe organ. My mom still has his album. We saw him twice. It seems like once word got around our small town in southern Minnesota about this, lots of people made the trek up to eat and see him play.

    Here is a link that explains this interesting form of entertainment.

    http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2009/10/video-1980s-organ-grinder-pizza-commercial.html

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  9. Thank you for remembering Ciceros Pizza with me! I was always thrilled as a young person to see George Summers at the pipe organ!! He controlled the instruments around the room from the organ and you never knew if something on the wall near you might be employed as the music played. Good times!

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  10. I worked at Ciceros Pizza in the Early 70's. Also helped open the Ciceros in Edina and one out west of the cities. I forget the mall it was in.
    I have George Summers Album also. The Har Mar Mall Store was the busiest. If you were there you would remember the waiting line outside.

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  11. I played the George Sumner Album tonight; Sumner, the correct spelling of his name. Even with the brick walls, the mighty pipe organ can be heard on the out side of Cicero's within the enclosed Har Mar Mall and in the parking lot.

    George is a father of eight children. He and his wife Barbara co-wrote a song on the album: "A Queen on a kitchen stool" Mr Sumner is very talented. Great memories posted here.

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  12. I have some memories of going to the old Organ Stop pizza place when I was a kid in the early/mid 70's (when we lived in Phoenix); I remember asking an old man on the organ to play "This Old Man" (he played one, he played tic tack on his thumb...), which he kindly did.
    I also remember one awesome night when our family and a neighbor family (with whom our family was very close) went out to Organ Stop one Friday evening, and I was amazed that it was past 11pm and our parents were actually allowing us to stay up that late! (I also recall being quite sleepy)...
    Although I cannot recall any specific flavors, I seem to remember the pizza itself was pretty good.

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  13. Gawd I miss Cicero's. Their top of the line pizza was one of the best I have ever had and the house was rocking with the organ cranked it was a great time. I would kill to have that pizza again (seriously, point the guy out!)

    That was a great time with very good pizza

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  14. AnonymousJuly 20, 2014

    We just ate at Organ Piper Pizza in Milwaukee on Hwy 100, It was EXCELLENT. My parents took me there in the eighties. We liked it but, I appreciate the talent and sound much more at this age. I love it and I can not wait to go back. I told my boyfriend we would stay for just "one more song" at least four times.

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  15. Cicero's also had a place at Leisure Lane in Edina - just south of Southdale Shopping Center. They had a Barton pipe organ there that was played most often by Mike Grandchamp, a talented musician and high school teacher. I worked there in about 1977. Also a very busy, popular place with great pizza!

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